Conservation at Hemblington

Author: Joyce Burtenshaw

Published on: 13 June 2019

Churchyards are a sanctuary for our hard-pressed wildlife.

Many flowers now seen rarely in hedgerows flourish by graves long forgotten.

Over the last ten years Hemblington Churchyard has been managed to conserve and promote wildlife by several groups of volunteers.

Our first work party included parishioners well into their 80s working with secateurs and others who provided the muchneeded refreshments. It brought everyone together. From this beginning, someone started to research laying the hedges and spent a winter bringing down the overgrown hawthorn hedges. A conference of the Caring for God’s Acre group gave us the tools to write a management plan to control the rank vegetation and encourage wildflowers.

We have worked with many local people to carry out tasks in the churchyard and used it to help others to increase their appreciation of God’s creation. Moth surveys have coincided with our summer family workshops so that the children can get really close to nature. Work parties are held during the winter months when brambles and hedges are cut back. Local farmers trim the hedges adjoining their land and one cuts the large area where there are no graves. Two local conservation groups help with the cutting and raking of the churchyard. Brownies have planted wildflowers and scouts have tidied brambles.

The basis of all good management is to know what exists and is worthy of conservation. To this end, we survey the churchyard every month through the summer. We now have a band of eight people who are learning the skills needed to identify the plants and wildlife that frequent the churchyard. The information gained is sent into national and international databases to be used for future scientific research. Each survey brings new discoveries.

When we embarked on this project we knew very little but our knowledge and confidence have grown with the years. We got started with help from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and

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Joyce Burtenshaw

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